The Truth is Powerful

AAC&U survey of employers shows liberal arts skills are valued and sought out in the workplace but raises questions about student preparation.

Tima Miroshnichenko/

The Association of American Colleges and Universities’ newest report , “How College Contributes to Workforce Success: Employer Views on What Matters Most,” is something of a mixed bag for higher education.

First the good: employers generally have confidence in higher education and value the college degree. They believe that a liberal education — or preparation for more than a specific job — provides knowledge and skills that are important for career success. And increasingly, employers say, college graduates are more effective at explaining what they bring to the table.

Personal aptitudes and mind-sets also play a role in career success, employers say. Breadth and depth of learning are essential to longterm performance. Completion of active and applied learning experiences in college gives job applicants a clear advantage in the hiring process, as well.

Now the not-so-great findings: employers see room for improvement in how colleges and universities prepare students for work. Views on higher education and perceptions of recent graduates also vary significantly by employer age and educational attainment. Younger employers — those under 40 — place a higher value on civic-related learning outcomes and experiences than do employers over 50.

The AAC&U is a staunch proponent of liberal arts education and […]

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